How does a character change position between ranges? e.g. "move" near to far
... appreciate that "move" is a key word in Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA)

Appreciate this question is very basic, but I'm very new to PbtA

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    \$\begingroup\$ You've tagged this with both Dungeon World and Apocalypse World. They both share the base system, of course, but could you clarify which one you're playing & experiencing this issue with? It helps make things clearer for us to know what's going on when a question's tagged with multiple systems. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 19:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ It might also be useful to include information about what you would expect an answer to look like. This will help give us a better idea of where you are currently and might reveal gaps or misconceptions that would need to be addressed to answer this usefully. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 19:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @WheatWizard I don't think it's best practices here to describe what an answer should look like—the question seems pretty clear. Is there detail you're interested in instead like the context or something? \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 19:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener My concern is that there is a misunderstanding as to how combat works in pbta or perhaps in the role of moves more generally. It's very hard for me to tell the OP's mental model of the game which leads to this. If they are expecting something like a move or a rule saying "you can move this much in a turn" that would be a great jumping off point. I think the question is clear, but I think it would be helpful for giving a useful answer. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 19:46

2 Answers 2


You move by moving.

OK, I'm being cheeky, but it's really that simple. In Dungeon World (and Apocalypse World, though I am much more experienced with the former), to do something, you say that you do something. Now, this might trigger moves; that is a conversation your table needs to have after you've declared your intention to move (and described how you do it). Is your opponent a trained spear fighter and you are wielding a dagger? This probably triggers "Defy Danger", because that move's trigger is the following:

When you act despite an imminent threat or suffer a calamity

The imminent threat here being "you get stabbed before reaching the enemy." Depending on the result of that move and what you do afterwards, you might also trigger other moves, but that is up to your description (and in some form up to the GM).

If your enemy were simply an inexperienced peasant with a pitchfork and you a dagger wielding rogue, you might not even trigger "defy danger", because there is not even an "imminent threat", but this is up to your table (and your GM) to find out.


If you come to these games from more traditional games, e.g. Pathfinder or DnD, you might be used to limitations to your movement speed, e.g. a specific number of meters/feet per round. In Dungeon World, these limitations don't really exist. First of all, there are no turns in combat; the narrative (and by extension the GM) determines who will act next. Any limitation to how far you can move is also only limited by the fiction. If you move a long distance, the spotlight might move to a different character before you arrive, but maybe not. Is your character lightly armored and really fast? You might reach the enemy before the Fighter, who is clad in plate armor, does. All of this will be determined by the fiction and thus by the players (which includes the GM).

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    \$\begingroup\$ It might be helpful to clarify whether there's any specific mechanics that handle movement and ranges. For example, D&D has tiles and measurements between them. Fate has zones, and moves that might interact with this zone or adjacent zones. Is movement in PBTA purely narration, "you said you moved over to this guy, so.you did, and now we know you're near him and far from others because that's what the scene we're narrating is like", with no further mechanics specifically about movement and ranges? It would help to confirm that explicitly, or else specify what other mechanics might be involved. \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener good point, is my edit clear enough? I am not really sure if I made the point well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Patta
    Mar 31, 2022 at 20:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think that makes the point well! :) \$\endgroup\$ Mar 31, 2022 at 20:35

Ask the MC, listen to the requirements or consequences, and then decide.

Right, so Uncle and them are gonna meet Dremmer under a "flag of truce", but I want some more insurance than that, and by "insurance" I mean "Dremmer's head in my scope at Far range". I can set that up, right?

This is just a standard part of being a player in any PbtA game: when you don't know what move applies to the situation you're in, tell the MC what your character is trying to accomplish in the fiction, and they'll let you know how things shake out from there.

You know what you're trying to accomplish in the fiction - while the range band tags (hand, near, far) all seem mechanical, all those tags are there to mean things in the story as well. What moving from one range band to another means, in the story, is probably something like "I'm going to get to the effective range of some of my equipment" or "I'm going to get out of the effective range of somebody else's".

And then the MC does their thing "when a player has their character take action that counts as a move, but doesn't realize it" (AW2E p10) or "when everyone looks to you to say something" (AW2E p88). Since they have authority to define the world state where you don't, this can take a variety of forms. From:

If that's what you want, sure. The meet's at the caravanserai and there's lots of overlooking rock columns. One problem, though - if that's where you're set up you won't really be able to help Uncle or anybody else except by running overwatch in combat. Are you fine with that?


I'm not sure how, really. The meet's inside Dremmer's fortress and on account of how most of his rowdies can't get enough up-close violence he's got the place set up all tight corners and no sight lines. The best you could get is a quiet corner during the meet itself on the very inner edge of near range.

and points in between:

Sure, the meet's at the caravanserai, you'll have no trouble finding a perch. But Dremmer knows where the meet's set up too, so here's the offer: at some point during the meet, you're going to act under fire, and the fire is they'll see you. The "they" is my little secret. Still game?

Well, the meet's inside Dremmer's fortress. Place still has windows, of course, but the problem is that it's an old-world prison and was a rabbit warren of passages before Dremmer got at it and started building barricades. The question is where on the outside to stand, which you could answer by somehow scouting the place without tipping Dremmer off, or buying off someone on the inside, or giving Uncle or somebody a way to signal you from the meet itself. Or something else clever. What's your move here?

You'll notice that all of these (well, all of these that agree your proposed course of action is possible) end in a question. That's another important part to being a player and narrating actions from fiction - you don't know what mechanics the MC is going to drop in front of you, so it's important to give you the option to back off your original intent and come up with another course of action if you don't want to pay the MC's price.

And when I say "don't want to pay the MC's price" I mean more the good-faith "the MC makes it sound way more dangerous and consequential than you thought it would be" than the weasel alternative "you don't wanna". It'd be lovely to get everything you want for free with a complimentary cupcake, but that is often not the sort of world your PC will find themselves in.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the comprehensive response ... but what book is "AW2E"? \$\endgroup\$
    – SteveC
    Apr 2, 2022 at 14:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SteveC That would be Apocalypse World 2nd edition, kickstarted in 2016. It's got a person with a satchel on the cover: AW2e on DriveThruRPG, AW2e on Itch.io. Dungeon World was released a few years before AW2e came out, but the core of the system is still the same, making AW2e still a useful reference for how things are generally supposed to work. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 2, 2022 at 16:19

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